Monday 25 December 2017

Compliments of the Season

A very Merry Christmas and a bright and brilliant New Year to everyone.

And if you haven't read it yet and are looking to top up your e-reader with something a bit different for Christmas - don't forget ...

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Never Work with Children and Animals

That's reputed to be an old saying in the movie industry.

In What Happens at Christmas, I did both.

I have no idea where Misty - the heroine's four year old niece - and Griff, her very independent minded cat, came from, but they were an essential part of the story. And as soon as I knew there was going to be a cat, my thoughts immediately turned to Ming. And he became a kind of pattern for Griff - not in personality, because Ming was a much gentler cat that Griff is - but the fact that he had a big enough spirit to become a family legend.

Most of Ming was white chinchilla, but he had a patch over one eye that was ginger and so was his tail. My Mum said it looked as if it had been stuck on. I can only go by what my Mum said, and a few old and blurry photos, because Ming actually died before I was born.

But he was remembered. And that takes a cat with personality, which is what I wanted for Griff. There were all sorts of family tales about Ming. He arrived home as a tiny kitten in my aunt's handbag - one of a litter from a girl she worked with. He was covered in lipstick and reeking of scent, as all the girls in the beauty salon had kissed him! My Mum named him, as naming of  family cats was apparently her job, and as London Zoo had just acquired a new panda, called Ming, that was what he became. (Although apparently the original panda was a she, who has recently been immortalised as a statue at the Zoo. )

And then there is the family legend - Ming was a very loving cat, who would meet my mother and my aunt at the bottom of the street on the way home from work and follow them home, jumping from wall to wall,  and he wasn't supposed to sleep on the chairs, but my grandmother always knew, because of the white hairs and ...

Well there are countless stories, and I wanted to create that sort of cat. I hope I have, with Griff.

And that's why one of the dedications in the book is to commemorate Ming. I think he deserves it. 

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bringing Devlin Back

Writing my new Christmas novella - What Happens at Christmas - was a bit of a surprise. It was never on the radar, until it was! I've gone into the details of how that happened in a post on the Being Anne blog, which was part of last week's launch week book blast.  There's a link at the bottom of this post, if you haven't read it yet.

Bringing Devlin back was a bit of a surprise too. After publication of Never Coming Home lots of people asked if I would be making him the star of a series - he got compared to Lee Child's Jack Reacher - a lot - which really surprised me. But I never expected him to have a role like that. He has his Happy Ever After with Kaz, and that's the story, for me.

Except when I was writing What Happens At Christmas, I knew that Drew was going to need some help. He's an action man, but he doesn't have the skills - or the connections - to get himself out of the mess I've dropped him in, on his own. I'd already given him a flat in London - I can't remember if it was already in Chelsea. It may have been, as it's an area I used to live and know reasonably well.

When I realised about the needing help thing, and exactly who was going to be perfect for the role, it didn't take much to make them neighbours in Chelsea, then friends.  And of course Devlin was exactly the person Drew would be able to reach out to, when he needed that sort of skill set.

It was actually great fun to bring Devlin back, in a cameo role, and to get a glimpse into his family life. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have half an idea for another story with Devlin and Drew. It would have to have another hero too - and a new heroine and a new love story ...

But, three heroes!!!

Can I cope with that?

At the moment it is just an idea. Just an idea.

Three heroes.

That really would be another story 

(Link to the blog post on Being Anne is HERE )

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Celebrating Launch Day.

The best way to celebrate the launch of a book is with friends. Yesterday I was at the Marcher Chapter of the Romantic Novelists Association and we had cake. Roulade, to be exact. Meringue, cream, almonds, fresh strawberries ...


About to cut it, with Jill Barry and Christina Courtney in the background
Elevensis is not always like this at the Marcher Chapter.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Why not Wales?

Scotland and Ireland are popular locations for romance novels – Wales, not so much. As I was born in the Principality and it is my home, I’m curious as to why that is. We have beautiful scenery, a fabulous, accessible coastline, historic buildings, archaeological sites, Dark Sky reserves, myths and legends, traditional food and drink, unpredictable weather, our own language … So why do books set in Wales rarely seem to feature in the best selling romance charts and everyone’s auto-buy list?

The international popularity of the TV series Hinterland - set in Ceredigion, around the town of Aberystwyth, suggests that Wales can be an attractive location - you only have to look at the scenery featured.  The one thing I do take issue with in that series are the interior shots - Wales is not entirely populated by semi derelict farm houses, rusting caravans, tumble down sheds and crumbling Victorian piles. I know they are trying for a desolate, inhospitable ambiance, but it still grates with me. Other than that, the series shows what Wales has to offer. Wales is used often for film locations, but usually appearing as somewhere else. Lots of the locations in the film The Finest, for example, were in Wales, but were portrayed as being in Cornwall. 

So - why not Wales as Wales? And in a book?

I have a vested interest in the question, as I like to set scenes from my books in Wales, usually in and around Cardiff or the National Parks. The second half of Out of Sight Out of Mind is set in Pembrokeshire, and in the new novella What Happens at Christmas  a large part of the action takes place in the snow bound Brecon Beacons. I'm also currently in the throes of developing a series that will be located on a fictional stretch of Welsh coastline, but one based on the area where I live. I’m hoping that those books would be popular and that people would enjoy them – but would they stand more chance of that if I was setting them in the Highlands? 

Is there a reason that Wales is not a go-to destination for romance? Is it simply that few romances have been set here? If so, then it’s clearly my job to provide in that area.

What would make you, as a reader, want to pick up a book that was located in Wales? Maybe even more importantly, what would stop you picking it up and adding it to your shopping cart?
I’d really like to know.  

Wednesday 22 November 2017

On location for What Happens At Christmas

A large part of the new Christmas e-book novella - What Happens at Christmas - is set in the Brecon Beacons National Park, in Wales. While the converted barn where the heroine stays for the holiday is invented, and I've also messed about with the weather, creating  some freak conditions to make sure I had oodles of snow on Christmas day, the hills and the scenery of the Beacons are real. As is the fact that the Park is a Dark Sky Reserve - making it an excellent place for star gazing. Very romantic, star gazing. At least, I hope it is. Abergavenny, the town where Lori, my heroine, does her last minute shopping for Christmas, is a real place too.

To give you a flavour of the setting - this week's blog has pictures. They wouldn't win any prizes for artistic impression, but they give you an idea. You just have to imagine it all covered in snow.

No - this one isn't Wales - it's Carlyle's House in Chelsea, in London.
This is the area where Drew, my hero, has a flat   
Now these are the Beacons - taken on a day in summer

Summer again.

This is a winter view, November and foggy.

You can see the fog over the hills to the right of the picture. 
And here we are, in Abergavenny
The hills lurk over the buildings of the town.
More lurk, and more fog.
The chickens in the roof of the Market Hall.
And this was the cake and gingerbread latte I rewarded myself with,
 after taking pix on a foggy day.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Stop Press


Just to say the lovely cover of Summer In San Remo is in the Author Shout Cover Wars this week.

Votes appreciated!

To vote, click here

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Outnumbered by books

I appear to have an addiction - cookery books. This was highlighted in the supermarket today when I exercised a great deal of will power and did not buy the Hairy Bikers new Mediterranean one. I very much wanted to, but  I was good, because you know - lots of other cookery books already. I have a sinking suspicion that I may eventually succumb - based on the recipes from said book that were reproduced in one of the Saturday papers that I read in Costa coffee, but for the moment, will-power rules.

I do make things from the books - sticky and dogeared pages testify to that, but mostly I just love looking at the pictures.

What else do I have? Well there is the TBR pile, or shelf. No make that shelves, but we all have one of those. History books - quite a lot of those - mostly to do with the day job, but some for books I plan some day to write - yeah, when the 48 hour day is invented.

Gardening. I have gardening. Not quite on the scale of cookery, but same principle.

Then I have what you might call the esoteric stuff - art and some spookyish stuff - symbols and folklore and a few about railways. Yes, they are all for books yet to be written too. And there are travel guides and plays - including two copies of the complete works of Shakespeare. A smattering of poetry and some classics left over from school and a few family hand me downs with book plates for Sunday school prizes for my mother and my grandmother. Which is where the reading thing came from. And signed copies of friends' books - they have their own shelf in the spare bedroom.

Which has made me realise that apart from the kitchen and bathroom, there is only one room in the house that does not have a bookcase/shelf in it and that's because it's too small to get a bed, my desk and a bookcase in there. Everywhere else there are books and that includes the hall and landing. Not many, but a few. And there are none in the airing cupboard, or there weren't, the last time I looked.

It's official. The house is full of books. I'm out-numbered. All I am is the live in librarian.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Writing Magazine - I wish I'd known ...

 I'm currently doing the last tweaks to What Happened at Christmas - now on pre-order, folks  - so I'm a trifle distracted, but not so distracted that I forget to tell you that  I'm appearing in this month's I wish I'd known column in Writing Magazine.

It's on special offer this month so you get a fab magazine, with oodles of writing chat and valuable info and insights and all for 99p!!

And me - on page 39, talking about the things I wish I'd known when I began my writing career.

Available now in a bookshop near you.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Snowdogs - Tails in Wales

Cardiff and the surrounding area is currently playing host to the Snowdogs - who are raising money for the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice.  I managed to take pictures of some of them, but there are 43 dogs and 57 pups, so I only scratched the surface. Here are a few of the Snowdogs on the trail. They will be in place until 26th November and then will be all together in the Capital Shopping Centre on the farewell weekend 8-10 December. Woof, Woof.

He's on the prom at Barry Island

Also on the prom

He greets you outside Central Station

Outside the Cardiff library

Pups - inside the library

More library pups

Another from the library. He looks very cheerful

Another library pup

The last library pup

A 'four seasons' Pup from St David's Centre
outside John Lewis

Another season - looks like summer

I think this one is spring

So he must be autumn :)
Rather a fearsome looking Snowdog
at the M&S end of St David's Centre

Pups from the M&S end of St David's Centre
I think he was my favourite - always been a sucker for fur.

Pup from the Capitol centre

More Capitol Centre pups 

And more

And another

The last one 

From the very top of Queen Street

He was outside the museum

There are lots more to see - at the other end of town, at Penarth and in the Bay and some of the local Cardiff parks and the airport. It would probably take a whole day to track them all down!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

About the new book.

Well, now you've seen the cover, maybe I'd better tell you about the new book. It's a Christmas book - the title kind of gives it away. I've never done one of those before. I'm not usually very big on Christmas, but it sort of happened. Books are like that. It's an e-book novella. Actually it's quite long for a novella - 60,000+ words so you'll be getting your 99p worth.

And you are going to buy it, aren't you? Pretty please? It's on pre-order at the moment from all the usual e-book retailers and publication day is 5th December.

But what is is about?

It's a romantic suspense, so not your usual feel good Christmas romance. Parts of it are very romantic and I hope you'll enjoy reading it, but be prepared for kidnapping, attempted murder ... all that festive stuff. A book for people who like something a bit different with their Christmas romance. The Christmas part is set in the Brecon Beacons, in a freak snow storm, although the book has a whole year time line and goes on to the following Christmas. The cover is gorgeous, thanks to the talent of the lovely Berni Stephens, who did wonders with my request for a hut. Watch that hut, it is significant.

It all starts when best selling author Andrew Vitruvius agrees to be kidnapped live on TV, for charity. And would-be author Lori France gets an unexpected visit from her sister.

Neither of them is going to get the Christmas they were expecting ...

Tuesday 17 October 2017

What Happens at Christmas

Deep in edits for the Christmas romantic suspense, so no proper post this week, but I can show you my lovely cover.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Locations for Summer in San Remo - sort of ...

I like to do a short location tour for a book - just to give readers an idea of the look of places that appear. You can see the links for the ones for Never Coming Home and Out of Sight Out of Mind at the top of the page.

I haven't done one yet for Summer in San Remo, because I like to take my own pics and sadly health issues have stopped me from travelling abroad recently, so I don't have any up to date photos of the gorgeous locations I used from the Italian and French Rivieras. I had to rely on vivid recollections of some glorious holidays and a lot of Internet browsing. And that was such a lot of fun, and brought back some wonderful sunny memories. And a visit to the Riviera is top of the list as soon as I can get on the move again. When there will definitely be pictures.

I was thinking about this the other day, while drooling over holiday brochures. One of my secret addictions. There is a lot of drooling goes on, I can tell you. But you don't want to know about that.

Summer in San Remo is not set entirely on the Riviera though. The book opens in Bath. And Bath I have photos of, even if it is another country. So, here is a mini tour of  Cassie and Jake's home town. Imagine it has one of those signs that they hang outside bits of museums that are temporarily unavailable 'Gallery under re-construction' or similar. And I promise pictures of sunshine as soon as possible.

The Christmas Novella - have I told you the title? It's What Happens at Christmas - is set in London and in the Brecon Beacons, around Abergavenny, so I should be able to manage pictures of that.

And in the meantime - here is a taste of Bath.

This is at the side of the Abbey.
Poultney Bridge, which has shops all along it

Walcot Street, which is where Cassie's fictional office for her concierge business is located 

One of the side streets, which gives a good idea of the style
 of the buildings and the colour of the stone.
This has nothing to do with the story,
but it's such a posh pillar box I couldn't resist including it. 

So that's a few shots of Bath. The start of the Summer in San Remo tour.
To be continued ...